If you’re thinking of replacing your windows, especially if they’re quite old, or because you want to lower your energy bills, it may be worth thinking again.
Experts suggest that much cheaper, smaller and easier to complete repair work, such as sealing any air leaks there are in your home, will have a more positive effect.
To help you out though, Affordable Windows, who fit windows and front doors in the Hertfordshire area have kindly put together a guide to common problems and whether or not it would be wise to replace or repair the windows in each scenario.
Scenario #1: Windows letting drafts in
- Symptoms to look out for – Air coming in and out of the gaps in window dividers, frames and sashes
- Cause of the problem – Wood rotting, sashes are loose, weather stripping is old, peeling or cracked caulking.
- Typical cost of repairs – We’ve covered wood that is rotted further down the page, but replacing a sash could cost between $40 and $250, repairing weather stripping could cost $8 per foot and it can cost around $1.75 for painter’s caulk to seal those annoying gaps.
- Should you replace or repair? – Repair is the best option. If you were to replace every single window in your house with more energy-efficient options, you would probably only save around 7 to 15% on your energy costs. Repairing the leaks in the windows as well as any other leaks could give you savings of at least 10 to 20% on your bills.
Scenario #2: Cranky windows
- Symptoms to look out for – Windows either don’t open and close smoothly or don’t open at all
- Cause of the problem – Broken hardware, grit, dirt and other debris building up on the track, sashes sealed shut with paint
- Typical cost of repairs – to replace the hardware, balances or tracks, it can cost anything from $50 to $270, whereas just cleaning these components costs cents. In order to break open a window that has been sealed in with paint, you need to break the paint using a putty or utility knife of some kind and then sand and scrape at the old putty and paint.
- Should you replace or repair? – Repair is the best option, unless you find it hard to find suitable parts for older window units. If you do find it hard, you would have to just replace the whole thing.
Scenario #3: Seals are broken
- Symptoms to look out for – What is referred to as blown windows, or streaks/foggy condensation appearing between triple or double panes.
- Cause of the problem – Expansions and contractions caused by heat eventually breaks the seals, encouraging condensation to build up between the panes as well as exposing the coatings with low-emissivity and gas in the insulation to the air, also referred to as oxidation.
- Typical costs of repairs – It is hard to save panes when the seals are broken. There are new gadgets that claim to be able to defog blass using valves and solutions. However, many online reviewers are not especially pleased with the results. Generally speaking, the easiest and quickest way to fit this issue is by replacing either the entire sash or just the pane.
- Should you replace or repair? – We’d always suggest that repairing is the best way to go with this particular issue. It’s pretty easy to install a new sash and it costs between $40 and $250, which is a lot less than fully replacing the whole window
Scenario #4: Broken window panes
- Symptoms to look out for – chips, scratches or cracks
- Cause of this problem – abrasive cleaners and damage caused by storms
- Typical cost of repairs – It costs $40 to $250 to replace the sash, the part of the frame that holds the actual pane, while replacing the glass itself costs $3 to $14 per sq.ft and the cost of hiring a handyman to complete the work can be as much as $100 to $300.
- Should you replace or repair? – Replace vinyl windows as these are fairly inexpensive. However, it is better to repair multi-pane customized windows, as well as those that are aluminum-clad and vintage, which could cost as much as $500 for each replacement.
Scenario #5: Wood has rotted
- Symptoms to look out for – Wooden frames that are rotted, as well as muntins or dividers and sashes tend to let air and water leak into your property
- Cause of this problem – Wood usually deteriorates when it has been exposed to damaging humid and wet weather regularly, has been seasoned ineffectively or painted or primed incorrectly. If the sprinklers in your garden are installed close to your windows and the windows regularly get blasted by them, this can also cause the wood to rot.
- Typical cost of repairs – it really depends how much of the wood has rotted. While it is possible to patch over smaller areas using epoxy, costing $25, you may need to hire a professional handyman if you need a full sill replaced, costing around $90 to $250 for labor and parts. Frames that have completely rotted can only be solved by removing the affected windows and rebuilding them. This, in the end, can cost as much as a full window replacement costs, around $300 to $700 per window.
- Should you replace or repair? – If the damage is only spots here and there, you should consider just repairing it. Whereas if the frames are completely rotted, you will need to replace them. Be sure to inspect them thoroughly as this kind of issue normally looks worse than it actually is.